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Brauns to present stories from summer MDS experience in Micronesia

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – What do snorkeling, seashells and the South Pacific have to do with Mennonite Disaster Service?

Kauffman Museum at Bethel College invites the public to the next Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program "Typhoons, Tin Roofs, and Two-by-fours: Mennonite Disaster Service at Work in Chuuk." The program is planned for 3:30 p.m., Sept. 28 at the museum in North Newton. In the illustrated program, Ron and Dena Braun of North Newton will share about their summer experience with Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) in Chuuk State of Micronesia. The Brauns served as MDS project co-directors assigned to rebuild houses following Typhoon Chata'an on the islands of Chuuk. In addition to the Brauns, 10 North American volunteers worked with and taught construction skills to 17 Chuukese men.

"Six weeks with MDS in Chuuk was too short but long enough to build 30 homes and develop life-long relationships," Ron Braun said.

The Brauns' special assignment was organized through the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which contracted with MDS to provide disaster assistance because of a compact of free association between the USA and the Federated States of Micronesia, of which Chuuk is an independent state.

Although MDS is known for volunteers responding to natural disasters in the United States and Canada, MDS has organized rebuilding teams after the 1998 Hurricane Mitch in Honduras, the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, and the 1992 famine in Zaire and Mozambique.

The story of MDS's motto, "responding, rebuilding, restoring," is told in Kauffman Museum's current special exhibition "When Disaster Strikes: The Story of MDS." The display of the exhibition has been extended through Oct. 19.

For more information, call Kauffman Museum at (316) 283-1612.

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.